|Women in Antiquity, CLST 295-015
objective of this course is to study the representation of women in the
literature of ancient Greece and Rome. We shall read both what women
had to say about themselves and their societies, the images they employed
to express their attitudes and feelings, and how men presented their views.
Ancient Greece and Rome were patriarchal societies where women were severely
protected/restricted by the laws and customs. Indeed, some people
trace to those times the problems women experience still. Nonetheless,
then as now, women played important roles. We shall examine the literary
representation of women’s goals and strategies, their motives and choices,
their personal and social concerns. We shall evaluate their stories
in the context of the art and documents of their times and in the light
of our contemporary values. We shall question what good their stories
hold for us as we seek to better understand where we have come from, where
we are, and where we want to go. Topics to be examined include the
following: personal identity and social constructs; gender and sexuality,
language and status, religion and politics, imaginative creativity and
Our subject matter comes from the ancient times, but our interpretations will be influenced by our personal inclinations and contemporary concerns. Underlying our approach will be l) a belief in human value, 2) a concern with how and why distorted or limited views reflect and contribute to personal and social restrictions, and 3) a desire to understand how we best can facilitate the expression and development of our abilities.
I shall provide background information, bring up important questions, and moderate discussions of the literature and its interpretations. Students will be asked to participate verbally and in writing, individually and in small groups. To facilitate the discussions, we may also use the electronic modes of communication..
Because this course is Writing Intensive, students will write weekly
essays on the literature. The type of assignment will vary in order
to include formal analysis and creative interpretations. Some possible
assignments: Outlining the topics covered in a particularly difficult section;
Defending (while acknowledging potential criticisms) one character or family;
Describing how you would paint or film a scene from one of the stories;
Describing what life would be like for you as a man or woman during those
early times; Recreating an old myth or creating your own derived from what
you have read; Drawing comparisons and contrasts between the different
representations of authors and literary characters; Finding parallels between
the problems faced by the ancient audience and our contemporary concerns.
These essays must each include a number of examples from the literature
read and your interpretation of that literature. They must be at
least one to two full pages. Typing is preferred but not essential
for the weekly essays if your handwriting is legible.
Note: Pay special attention to highlighted word. They are link that lead to study guides.
January 23-25: (No Class); Discuss the Hymn to Aphrodite; Fantham 10-53, “Women in Archaic Greece,” particularly the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (the mysteries of grief, rage, and love: a mother, her daughter, rape, marriage, and life in death. (Fantham pages 27-33)
January 28-01: Packet: Iliad 6; Odyssey l9, 23: Meet Helen, the woman for whom the Trojan war was fought because she left her husband for another man, Andromache, the wife who lost her husband because of Helen, and Penelope, the heroic wife of Odysseus whose stratagem of the wooden horse led to Troy’s destruction.
February 4-8: Continue discussion on epic women. TEST (objective and short essays) on epic selections.
February 11-15: Introduction to Lyric poetry: SAPPHO: a woman’s perspective on the divine, life, love, and what is the very best. Sappho (Snyder 11-37; handouts).
February 18-22: Continue discussion of Sappho. Male epic and lyric poets express their views of women: misogyny and utilitiarianism, idealism and romantization (Fantham 12-14; 25-26; 40-44;56-66).
February 25-01: Women poets in the Classical Period: Myrtis, Korinna, Praxilla, and Telesilla compete and provide standards for their communities (Snyder 38-63). Amazons and woman warriors (Fantham 129-34).
March 4-8: NO CLASS; Spring Break
March 11-15:TEST on Lyric poetry:. Read Fantham 68-124 on “Women in Classical Athens.” (500-323 B.C.E.); Sophocles’ Antigone (Packet): daughter, sister, niece, fiancee, suicide.
March 18-22: Discuss Antigone’s passion, loss, and fame. Euripides’ Medea (Packet) helped Jason win the golden fleece, but when he abandoned her for another woman, she took her revenge.
March 25-27: Discuss the Victims and Heroes of drama: Models for Men and Women?. TEST; (No Class)
April 03-5: (No Class) Review Philosophic and medical perspectives, male and female (Fantham 120-121; 183-203). Introduction to the Hellenistic Period (323-31 B.C.E.). Fantham 136-180; Menander comedy (packet).
April 8-12 Hellenistic Women Poets: Anyte, Nossis, Erinna, and Moero composed poetry for women, men, children, and animals (Snyder 64-98).
April 15-19: Introduction to the Roman Period (especially 100 B.C.E. to 100 C.E.) Women in the Roman Republic: Univira, SM, Cleopatra (Fantham 211-41; 260-77). Identify term paper or project
April 22-26: Term Paper or Project Due. Roman women continued: “The New Woman” and “The Age of Augustus” (Fantham 280-327); Sulpicia provides a Roman woman’s voice (Snyder 122-51). Last Class.
May 01: Final Exam, 10:20-12:20
for study guide)
Grading: Mid-term and final grades will be determined from the accumulation of points obtained from tests, a formal paper (5-7 typed pages on a subject of your choice but centered on the literature read this semester) or a project with shorter paper numerous short oral or written assigments for group discussions
Consultation: My office hours in Crown Center 551 are on MWF from 10:00-11:20 and from 12:30-1:00 or by appointment. My office phone number is 773-508-3657; the phone number of the departmental secretary, Ms. Bogosian, is 773-508-3650; this number has voice mail. My home phone number is 847-251-0769; please call before 10:00 P.M. My group wise e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org